I really empathize with Peter in today’s Gospel as he makes the bold statement, “I will lay down my life for you.” Like Peter, we are quick to name the things we are doing right. In the case of working toward racial justice, claiming the ways we are not racist is easy. “I don’t use racial slurs.” “I have friends of color.” “I read this in-depth article about racism in our country.”
I also really empathize with Jesus’ quick quip: but will you really? Too often, I have felt silenced or “othered” by folks quick to make “I am not a racist” claims. Too often, I have witnessed these folks perpetuate systems that prioritize white voices and leave the voices of people of color out.
Often, we are afraid of naming when we are racist. As Peter’s fear caused him to deny his friend Jesus, our fear prevents us from naming for ourselves moments when we are complicit in and contribute to racism. Our fear prevents us from taking the first steps toward laying down our lives to work toward racial justice.
As Peter was later poignantly forgiven by the resurrected Christ and committed his life (eventually laying it down) to following Jesus’ teachings, we must remember to continually move past our fears and our guilt to build the racially just world that we long for.
- What does it mean for you to lay down your life for Jesus and racial justice?
- What fears prevent you from following Jesus by working toward racial justice?
AnneMarie Ladlad is a former Jesuit Volunteer and a graduate of Seattle University.